Giving An Hand To SGBV SurvivorsMay 21, 2022
Gender based Violence is one of the most widespread and socially tolerated forms of human rights violations, cutting across nationality, race, class, ethnicity and religion.
It is a major source of inequality in Kenya today. It has a profound social and economic impact on families’ communities and the entire nation as well as serious ramifications on national security.
71% of women in this country have reported having experienced physical or sexual violence from their husbands or partners in their life. At Least 10 women with the number rising daily. The perpetrators being youthful males of 18 to 33 years old. Both men and women experience gender based violence but the majority of victims are women and girls.
Much have been written and said on the imperative of intersectionality within the fight for women’s equality and in efforts to end gender based violence.
Just at 16, Pauline was raped by a gang and at 19 suffered domestic violence after an early marriage. Instead of cooing in deep depression, she looked for a way to help women who were going through similar situations.
The mother of two started a community based organization after experiencing 4 years of physical and sexual abuse from her partner.
“As a survivor of sexual and domestic violence as a teenager. I have always wanted a space to be myself to dream without limits and support from a community that understood me”. She said.
Pauline Juma started Rebirth of a Queen an NGO focusing on GBV survivors in 2017, at the time her focus was on survivors. The community based organization aims at helping women who suffer domestic violence, rape and other situations that are forms of GBV. It was started to empower, mentor survivors of GBV to live a trauma free and empowered life. The Organization begun with a small shelter which was initially my house in Kibera before it was moved to Kajiado County. The numbers kept increasing as 1 in 4 women experience physical or sexual abuse in Kibera.
She runs the shelter surviving on fundraising and donors and when it comes to sanitary towels and diaper for the kids she does a fundraising.
“The cases increase everyday and this makes it hard to cater for everyone and run the shelter as the number of victims increases daily too. Every day we receive a case or two for the rescue. We specifically deal with rescuing survivors, sheltering and empowering them.” Running a shelter is a frustrating affair apart from carrying the weight of survivors’ trauma of the proprietors shoulders funding is a constant headache.
“I work so hard for it, as I am forced to do 4 jobs to keep the safe house running. There are days we try fundraising, some days we get well wishers as it’s always on me”. She narrates with acrimony.
“At the moment I have 21 people at the safe house 15 of them are above 13 years, 6 out of the 15 are children and 6 are children below 10 years.”
Most GBV cases are never reported, according to the founder of Rebirth of A queen, before getting justice in this country, one goes through a long process especially for survivors of Gender Based Violence.
“Sometimes I feel it’s all a scam, going round and round at the court until you give up. Out of 15 cases we have reported, none of them has borne any fruits. A 4 year old survivor of defilement is the latest case I am working on. The perpetrator is an 18 year old who was released on bond.”
At Rebirth of a Queen women can stay for 9 months at most while undergoing counseling and medical treatment. “Those over 18 years stay for 9 months. I Rescue, shelter, empower, take them through therapy and eventually reintegrate them back to the society.” She continues.
Most shelters target women and children exclusively, as she is yet to open a safe house for boys before the year ends. Despite having financial challenges, the organization also faces threats from perpetrators who feel that the existence of Rebirth of a Queen poses as risk to their freedom.
Pauline Juma has worked hard to fight for women and children lives from the hands of perpetrators, looking back from where she started she says she is happy that she has made many steps forward though she feels she ought to do more. She calls for each Kenyan to help in the fight for GBV.
“It is a journey that needs all hands on deck. It takes blood, sweat, tears and sleepless nights to get where I am today, to handle GBV we need to start with poverty because those living in under privileged areas are prone to violation as they are seen vulnerable and no one cares about them” She adds.
She feels that Kenyans are in a comfort zone when it comes to fighting GBV and it breaks her heart that femicide has taken root in this country and its saddening that Sheila Lumumba was killed and the fact that there’s no progress in the case is more sickening and shows how slow and unconcerned our justice system is when it comes to search cases. It clearly shows how we as a country value non-binary people and women.
“We young women are on our own and it is our responsibility to provide security for ourselves, it’s up to us to speak against GBV as it seems no one is coming to rescue us. It is hurting and scary but we have to rise everyday and advocate against violence on women.” Pauline urges women.
Community activists like Pauline who foster survivors should be equipped with the skills and tools, including financial support to provide these services. The government should work together with the grass root movements to strengthen the work done on GBV. The government should also strengthen the justice system every individual should rise and be the change needed to see.